Venue selection key to successful concerts


British band Coldplay made Kuala Lumpur one of the stops in its Music of the Spheres World Tour on Nov 22. — Filepic

Limited places able to handle huge crowds, say organisers

The recent concert by British band Coldplay in Malaysia was an eye-opening experience for many.

As unforgettable as the one-night-only live performance may have been for fans, the journey to and from the venue was equally memorable but not in a good way.

Some 75,000 people braved the rain to see the Grammy-winning band perform live at National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur on Nov 22.

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Complaints ranged from poor crowd control to massive trafficcongestion brought on by indiscriminate parking and stalls selling food and souvenirs in the area.

StarMetro reached out to concert organisers to find out challenges they face when putting together such large-scale events.

Opportunity knocks

When Coldplay announced that its Music of the Spheres World Tour would include South-East Asia, one concert organiser saw a chance to bring the act to our shores.

Live Nation Entertainment Malaysia managing director and co-owner Para Rajagopal said Malaysia was not originally included in the tour.

“The band had plans to do multiple shows in Singapore.

“I thought this was an opportunity to bring them to our country,” he said.

Fans lining up to enter the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil to watch the Coldplay concert. — FilepicFans lining up to enter the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil to watch the Coldplay concert. — Filepic

Intense planning ensued to welcome the band, which Para said took place months ahead of the concert.

“We engaged with various government agencies such as the police, Prasarana Malaysia Bhd and the stadium’s carpark operator since July.

“We had a series of meetings to identify the demographics of the fans and discuss the flow of crowds at the event,” he added.

Venue selection

Muhammad Iqbal Ameer, who has 12 years of experience in the concert industry, said choosing a proper venue was the first step to a successful show.

The chief executive officer of The Livescape Group, a live entertainment company, said seating capacity, available facilities and venue accessibility were key criteria to consider.

He added that the company also regularly hired ushers to help regulate the crowds and ensure their proper dispersal after the event.

“Each organiser will have different methods for dispersal.

“Some, like sports event organisers, divide the crowds into sections and release them in stages,” said Muhammad Iqbal.

Another factor, he said, was whether the venue had the equipment to accommodate the artiste’s technical requirements.

“Certain performers might need a specialised system and the venue must be able to provide it,” he added.

For Para, identifying the demographic of fans was a crucial first step in providing the necessary amenities.

Para says finding a venue that is available and big enough to hold huge crowds is a challenge.Para says finding a venue that is available and big enough to hold huge crowds is a challenge.

Among the factors to consider, he said, were the sex ratio, racial composition and age groups of the fans.

“If the artiste draws more female fans, then more women toilets need to be prepared at the concert venue.

“Likewise, if the artiste has a huge following among Muslim fans, the organiser needs to consider providing a surau for their use,” he added.

Para said some live entertainment operators also provided a special seating area for the disabled.

Another challenge, he said, was finding a venue that was both available and big enough to accommodate huge crowds.

He said at present, there was a limited number of venues in Klang Valley that could cater to a huge crowd.

Among them was the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, which he said was currently used for both concerts and sporting events.

Accessibility concern

Getting thousands of fans to and out of a concert area presented concert organisers with another challenge.

For the recent Coldplay concert, Prasarana extended operation hours at the Bukit Jalil LRT station from 11pm to 1am.

But getting the train operator to agree to the extension was not so easy, said Para.

“We were asked to pay RM100,000 to cover the cost of manpower,” he said, adding that this figure was reduced to RM10,000 after negotiation.

Para said based on his observation, those from older age groups preferred to drive instead of taking public transport.

Young people are more likely to take public transport to a concert but older folks prefer to drive to the venue. — FilepicYoung people are more likely to take public transport to a concert but older folks prefer to drive to the venue. — Filepic

This presented a secondary problem – a lack of parking bays.

Illegal roadside parking is common at the Bukit Jalil stadium area during events.

He said there were only between 5,000 and 6,000 bays in the area — not enough to cater to the number of concertgoers who drove that night.

To add to the problem, during the Coldplay concert, half of these bays were used for storing the band’s containers and equipment, he added.

The rapid development in recent years around the stadium, said Para, had put further strain on traffic in the area especially during big events.

Traffic control

Concert organisers are also required to comply with various requirements set by the authorities such as Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the police.

For road closures and traffic diversions, DBKL said approval from its Urban Transport Department was needed.

“The organiser is also required to hire and station People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) personnel onsite to monitor traffic.

“A fee is imposed and will be forfeited if the organiser fails to ensure proper traffic control,” said DBKL in a statement to StarMetro.

It is common to see vehicles parked along Persiaran Jalil Utama leading to National Stadium in Bukit Jalil during big events such as football matches and concerts. — FilepicIt is common to see vehicles parked along Persiaran Jalil Utama leading to National Stadium in Bukit Jalil during big events such as football matches and concerts. — Filepic

An entertainment licence from DBKL and permit from the police were also needed, it added.

The police, meanwhile, said they were not responsible for regulating the traffic or crowds during concerts.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Comm Datuk Allaudeen Abdul Majid told the media on Nov 30 that the responsibility lay with the organiser.He said this during the city police’s monthly assembly in reference to public complaints about congestion at the Coldplay concert.

“Our main objective is to ensure the safety of concertgoers and that the event proceeded without incidents,” he was quoted as saying.

Comm Allaudeen added that the organiser, and not the police, was responsible for coordinating the flow of people in and out of the venue.

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